Australian Sound Artist

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Looking for Cowslips

:: Looking for Cowslips - live performance @ the Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre ::

The final evenings performance for Mira Calix included compositions from British composers Tansy Davies, Larry Groves and Emily Hall. I was not familiar with any of their work but will be keeping my third eye and ear attuned in the future, as I enjoyed and was intrigued by their various approaches in composition. 

By far the piece that shone on the night (in my memories) was 'Wedding List' (Calix) from the contemporary opera piece, 'Dead Wedding'. During rehearsals it did not particularly register with me and yet as the night at the Salon pulled you closer, it rose to the point of becoming a modest yet ideal example of the elements that Calix brings together for her work in contemporary classical/electronic composition. 

Musicians for this piece were:

Zoe Knighton - Cello
Anna Webb - Viola
Aviva Endean - Clarinet
Lotte Betts-Dean - Soprano
Mira Calix - Electronics

Together they generated a sweetness in the air that began with a coy shyness between soprano and clarinet. Timid refrains created a melodic conversation between the two, to be joined by quieter chanting voices and delicate electronics in their sonic background. The piece builds and it's musical elements lose their inhibitions, expressing a release of the emotion 'Love'. It becomes harder to differentiate between the electronic sounds, soprano and strings. Vocals, strings and electronics swirl, layer upon layer, bonding to create a pocket of warmth that you are fortunate enough to be existing in, as they inspire and act as catalyst to the atmosphere growing around them.

At the finish of this piece I believe I became, 'stuck'.
It's lingering impression and mood was such that I could not wholeheartedly focus on those that followed, as my heart was still with, 'Wedding List'.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fables & Other Works

:: Rehearsal artefacts :: 
The first evening went well and I must admit, I was relieved once it was complete and looking for that glass of red wine. I was struck by how different the pieces sounded when removed from the comfort and somewhat casual but hectic nature of rehearsal. They seemed a lot 'harder' in observation - both in the musicians act of physically playing the pieces and in the challenges of non-conventional composition, presented to the listening audience. 

In the formality of the concert, the boundaries between the expected/accepted and the new - being tampered with in composition methods and creative content, was laid out bare on a stark background to be opposed, accepted or simply observed as one would see fit. 

Personally, I found it exciting but also a little terrifying. 'He Fell Amongst Roses' was a typical example of the above, with  it's crescendo being reached as musicians frantically bowed their instruments with heightened strength and aggression as to evoke a level of volume and intensity that left me feeling exhilarated and oddly enough - frightened. They finish in unison on a single note almost as a vocal shout of triumph (or war-cry), while Mira Calix continues playing the electronic sounds of a thumping beat typically heard through the walls of a club - to fade into a muffled sub frequency that soaks into the sonic surroundings before finally reaching silence.

Tonight is the Salon. 
See you there.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fables & Other Works: Looking for Cowslips. Rehearsals.

:: Guest performers :: 

I joined Mira Calix for her rehearsal schedule, to find developments moving quickly. I missed the first couple of rehearsals and those small voids covered an expanse of progress well beyond what I would expect to achieve in rehearsal time. She moves quickly!! While I scoop up scores with recently added pencil markings and hand written scribblings - to save them before they disappear into the flurry of actions and objects that together - bring the works to life - Mira has moved on to the next rehearsal piece and is describing moods and inspirations to the musicians.

These moments of explanation from Mira have become a bit of a favourite of mine. They are moments of quiet, whereby the musicians (and I from afar) sit and listen, to the tales of how/why/where/who - reasons of creation - intended emotional response and translation of the above through the playing of their instruments. I've always enjoyed a good story teller... Captions that I remember from her tales include, 'Egyptian basement acid trip', 'Whirling dervishes' and 'thick, dense, soupy air'. There were so many more but I've managed to forget them already.

:: Rehearsal in Elisabeth Murdoch Hall - in progress ::

Wednesday's rehearsal was in the Elisabeth Murdoch Hall of the Melbourne Recital Centre and included the musicians,

Amir Farid - Piano
Josie Vains - Cello
Sarah Curro - Violin
Jo Beaumont - Violin
Aviva Endean - Clarinet
Anna Webb - Viola

The two pieces that have haunted me with their sounds since this rehearsal are 'Nunu' and the 'Made of Music' commission, 'He Fell Amongst Roses'. I'm trying not to give too much away but I will say that both are strikingly different but cover two pressure points of my own likings, them being, instruments as used to generate organic sounds (opposed to traditional musical notes) and the lure of repetitive beat - that is typically not so present in classical as it is in dance music. 

Thursdays rehearsal was considerably quieter - with more time to hear inspirations from Mira and to be inspired myself. Musicians included,

Amir Farid - Piano
Zoe Knighton - Cello
Lotte Betts-Dean - Soprano
Aviva Endean - Clarinet
Anna Webb - Viola

While Wednesday seemed to focus on 'larger' pieces (if this makes sense), Thursdays works conveyed a sense of smaller tales of the sweet, sour and disruptive. The room was the, 'Salon' which is considerably smaller and much more intimate than the large hall. Sounds are more direct - there is less need for amplification and each piece feels as if it is being told to you by a close friend, rather than a speaker announcing to a crowd. 'Narcissus' is a piece aptly named and provokative in nature - to the point that you enjoy it's discord. In contrast, 'I am Alone', leaves you internally weeping and holding your loved ones close to you in joy and sorrow - together as one....

If I had to choose one night to attend then I would chose Saturday night in the Salon. (I have always liked smaller crowds and closer friends for company). Either of the nights would give you a whirlwind of emotions as generated by the musical repertoire - collecting you from your point of beginning and delivering you at the point of end - with the feeling of having gained experiences unique to the world.

Not to be missed......

Booking details: 
Friday in the Elisabeth Murdoch Hall: Fables & Other Works can be found HERE
Saturday in the Salon: Looking for Cowslips can be found HERE